Letter to the Board of Education of Livingston, NJ


Letter from Jewish Voice for Peace of Northern New Jersey regarding a program being sponsored by Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and hosted by the Livingston Public Schools.

February 26, 2024

To:  Pam Chirls, President

Jenissa Arnette, Vice President

Seth Cohen, Member

Parul Khemka, Member

Fang Gong, Member

Jake Ferrans, Student Representative

 Cc:  Dr. Matthew J. Block, Superintendent of Schools

Dear Members of the Board of Education of Livingston, N.J.,

We write to express our shock and dismay that the Livingston public schools are hosting an extremely one-sided event regarding the situation in Israel-Palestine. Of course, one welcomes any attempt to inform the public and the students of Livingston about world developments. But a program sponsored by the Jewish Federation of MetroWest, an organization that openly sides with one of the parties to the current conflict, will be anything but educational or balanced. It will be a continuation of the propaganda mission of MetroWest, which last month sponsored an equally one-sided trip to Israel, a trip in which Livingston’s superintendent unfortunately was a participant.1  This is not just a matter of the Livingston Board of Education renting space to an outside organization, but of inappropriately promoting with its logo and distribution lists a highly partisan presentation.

We’re sure that a program involving the sharing of “personal and communal stories of survival, loss, and heroism from Oct. 7” will be very moving. After all, hundreds of innocent Israeli civilians died that day. But wouldn’t it be equally or even more moving to learn of the twenty times as many innocent Palestinian civilians who have died since that date,2 and whose deaths grow by two hundred each day? And wouldn’t it be even more heart-rending to learn of the enormous numbers of Palestinians who at this very moment are at risk of dying of starvation and disease as a result of the Israeli onslaught and blockade?3

Shouldn’t the Livingston community learn why President Biden has referred to Israel’s bombing policy as “indiscriminate”4? Or why he declared that Israel has gone “over the top”5? Or why the International Court of Justice found that there was a “plausible” case that genocide is being carried out?6 Or why the National Education Association,7 the American Federation of Teachers,8 and the AFL-CIO9 have called for a ceasefire? Will MetroWest provide information about these things?

If the Livingston Public Schools wishes to host an informative program about Israel-Palestine, there are many experts they could invite from organizations committed to human rights for all, such as Doctors Without Borders or Amnesty International. If you wanted a program featuring partisans of both sides, you could balance the one-sided perspective of MetroWest with supporters of the Palestinian cause.

We stand ready to help you find appropriate speakers if you genuinely wish to offer a balanced program. If instead you go forward with the one-sided presentation by the Jewish Federation of MetroWest, you will be betraying your educational and civic obligations to your diverse community.

Thank you,

Jewish Voice for Peace of Northern New Jersey


1  https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/education/2024/01/26/nj-superintendents-israel-trip-why-who-paid/72343937007/

2  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/more-than-29000-palestinians-have-been-killed-in-gaza-since-wars-start-health-ministry-says

3   https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/16/middleeast/gaza-famine-starvation-un-israel-war-intl-hnk/index.html; https://www.who.int/news/item/19-02-2024-children-s-lives-threatened-by-rising-malnutrition-in-the-gaza-strip 

4  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/biden-takes-a-tougher-stance-on-israels-indiscriminate-bombing-of-gaza

5  https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/08/politics/biden-calls-israels-response-in-gaza-over-the-top/index.html

6  https://www.npr.org/2024/01/26/1227078791/icj-israel-genocide-gaza-palestinians-south-africa

7  https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/action-center/take-action/support-cease-fire-middle-east

8  https://www.aft.org/resolution/calling-bilateral-cease-fire-gaza-and-promoting-two-state-solution-and-end-weaponization

9    https://aflcio.org/press/releases/afl-cio-statement-situation-israel-and-gaza

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